Leylah Fernandez has been on a hot streak in Mexico, reaching her first WTA final in Acapulco last week and the quarterfinals of Monterrey this week, but that’s where the Canadian teenager’s run came to an end Friday night, falling to Elina Svitolina in two tight sets, 6-4, 7-5. The No. 7-ranked Svitolina is now through to her first WTA semifinal of the year.
“It feels amazing,” she said in her on-court interview. “I was trying to be really focused because I know that Leylah can play really good tennis. I had to really be on my feet, serve well and take it one point at a time, and just stay positive. I think it was a very good level tonight, just a very good match.”
After closing out the 40-minute first set with an ace, Svitolina was in deep trouble serving at 2-3 in the second set, falling behind 0-40 and eventually saving five break points to hold for 3-all - she then had her own crack at a break point with Fernandez serving 4-all, 30-40, but the Canadian hit a backhand down the line winner to hold for 5-4, getting within a game of sending the match to a decider. But Svitolina held, broke at love then served it out, ripping one last unreturnable forehand to end it.
“I had chances to break her earlier in the second set, but it didn’t happen,” Svitolina said. “I just had to stay positive and stay clear with my game plan.”
The Ukrainian was also asked about the very supportive fans in Monterrey.
“I felt a lot of love tonight,” she said. “It’ll inspire me to play better tennis and hopefully more wins.”
Svitolina came into Monterrey off of back-to-back opening round losses in Dubai and Doha, and she’s now through to her first semifinal since reaching the final of the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in 2019.
The World No. 7 is two wins away from her first WTA title since the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in 2018. Awaiting her in Saturday’s semifinals in Monterrey will be either Rebecca Peterson or Arantxa Rus.
Saturday’s other semifinal will feature Johanna Konta against Marie Bouzkova.
Konta rallied from 5-2 down in the third set and saved two match points to edge Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (7), while Bouzkova defeated China’s Wang Yafan, 6-2, 7-5.
This week has been somewhat of a revival for Konta, who hadn’t won a match since the US Open before the tournament. She missed the rest of 2019 due to injury and had been 0-3 in 2020. The British No. 1 is now through to her first semifinal since she reached the final four at Roland Garros last June.